While me and Ryoko’s wedding will be a litttlllle bit unique, there are some very traditional aspects to our 3-day event, notably the Shinto ceremony at Munetada Jinjya (shrine).
This shrine is in the neighbourhood where Ryoko grew up and it is a day-to-day working shrine meaning its not a tourist attraction, rather they are active participants in the community and the usual place where folks go to ask for blessings on the birth of babies, safe travel, scholastic success and secret dreams.
I’ve studied the ceremony overview from the shrine with great interest (albeit with machine translation):
4. Aoi-no-gi (Cannabis) (Hai no Toi)
Ui no Uta (Cannabis) I will ask you before the ceremony. We will treat the bride and groom and all the guests with cannabis. During this time, keep your head down.
Here are a few more articles which provide a bit of background about the routine and background of Shinto weddings:
Furthermore, to prepare for the ceremony, i present a photo gallery of the shrine and grounds… beginning with the traditional Torii gate which separates the home of deity from the regular city life.
Next, you’ll come across a purification station with this hemp paper “zig zag” denoting such as a place of ritual cleaning.
Wash each hand by pouring water from the bamboo ladle. Also put a bit in your mouth (really just wet your lips) and they dry off with the handkerchief yo’ve likely brought along.
You’ll likely want to purchase an amulet of good fortune or prayer tablet to let the gods know what you seek and to keep mindful of such.
Prayers are generally written on these wooden tablets which are purchased at the shrine.
Also provided is a table with arts and crafts markers to write your intentions along with birthdate and other personal information i’m not sure about exactly however, the gods seem to need it for some purpose.
After writing your prayer, hang on the board and the magic henceforth happens.
All the prayers pile up so pleasingly!
At the grand shrine (build approx 150 years before the wedding), you drop coins in the box, ring the bell, clap twice, bow, clap again.
The bell awakens the various gods and ancestors and/or whoever else requires summoning for your requests.
Then respectfully wander the grounds seeing all the little shrines and alcoves and whatnot – while exact purpose may be somewhat unclear, the general sensibility rather obvious.
Otherwise make up a purpose to ease your mind.
Note: While the main shrine hall is about 150, other buildings are a good bit older (the hall for the wedding about 175). Notably, this shrine survived the WW2 bombings which destroyed much of downtown Okayama (including castle).
No instructions needs for gazing at a blossoming sakura tree.
Of course there’s a handy toilet and bench for resting and regrouping.